FAITH UNDER PRESSURE
“Times are called ‘dark’ not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.” ~James A. Michener~
Forward Thinkers, today I want you to realize, no matter what your current situation looks like, this season, things are going to work out in your favor. Keep the faith. God has everything under control. Remember, Satan is not omnipresent although he is often present. Remember Forward Thinkers, God promised to never leave or forsake us. As a matter of fact, Forward Thinkers, God knows the DNA of every tear we have ever shed and He has a plan in place to wipe them all away.
Today we will look at the Apostle Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians to grasp a better understanding of how to succeed when your faith is under pressure. Forward Thinkers, let me remind you, the Apostle Paul was not always the man of noble character we see in the book of Corinthians. It is important today, Forward Thinkers, that you come to the realization that God can change and commission anyone He chooses to complete the work of the gospel. If Paul qualified to serve, then you too can be used by God to accomplish great deeds in this generation. But remember, there will be times your faith will come under great pressure.
2 Corinthians 11:23-33 (NIV)
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
1. Jailed and Beaten Up
Paul was innocent yet jailed. Your faith will get you in trouble because it will pit you against the powers to be. But remember Forward Thinkers, that same faith will save you when you’re in trouble.
Paul was beaten but didn’t give up. Timex Watch Company has a slogan that its watches can take a licking and keep on ticking. My question today is, can your faith take a licking and keep on ticking?
Saul, the anti-Christ movement protestor and destroyer, never came under pressure for being against Christ but Paul, who after his conversion became the leader of the Christ movement, was beaten for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forward Thinkers, can your faith survive the unfairness of life?
Paul started out on a fantastic voyage but ended up shipwrecked like Gilligan and Mary Ann. Forward Thinkers, in life, sometimes the most well thought out plans are interrupted by things outside of our control. Not only was Paul shipwrecked but now he was struck in a place not even on his map. In life we must learn to quickly make adjustments to offset the sudden changes life will bring. Forward Thinkers, don’t give up but recalibrate your GPS faith system.
3. Struggle with friends/Struggle with foes
I understand struggle with my foes; that’s normal, expected, and natural. But struggles with friends are painful and hurtful. Can your faith endure an enemy in your camp? Forward Thinkers, don’t get caught up in bitterness. Shake off your haters and keep moving forward in faith.
4. Betrayed by those I thought were my brothers
I discovered a painful lesson. You can only be stabbed by someone close to you. In the bible, one brother stole another brother’s birthrights; one brother raped his sister; and another brother became jealous of his born again brother. Forward Thinkers, we can’t allow others, no matter how close they are, to stop us from reaching our maximum potential in life. Betrayal is an opportunity for you to learn valuable life lessons.
5. Many nights, no sleep
Mind heavy, eyes filled with tears, up worrying late at night. Forward Thinkers, it’s time to let go and go to sleep. Jesus promised He would carry our burdens and would fight our battles. Therefore it’s time to release the cares and worries of this world over to Jesus. Worry is a complete waste of time. So stop wasting precious time and go to sleep.
6. Caring about others more than they care about themselves
Paul reminds us of the painful task of caring about people more than they care about themselves. Forward Thinkers, I’m challenging you to mature in your faith this season.
Mature faith realizes you have to leave some people behind with the donkeys like Abraham did as he traveled upward to a higher assignment.
Both Paul and Abraham realized many people have become burned out trying to carry the weight of others, especially dead weight.
Forward Thinkers, stop allowing the bad habits of others to rob you of the joy of an abundant life.
In conclusion, let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:33 and discover there is always good news in the midst of every struggle. Paul leaves us with three major breakthrough points.
I. But I was lowered in a basket—God has already prepared your escape vehicle
II. Window in the wall—God has already prepared an opening for your escape
III. Slipped through his hands—God will take care of you. Remember, no weapon formed against you and your faith will prosper.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church located, 16711 Ella Blvd. Houston, Texas, 77090. Contact Pastor Deckard at www.ghic.net or via Facebook.